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Letter to the editor at replying to “Guns, kids don’t mix

It depends on how you raise them. We raised three children with guns in the house. However, the guns and ammunition were secured and under our control. We went shooting as a family. We belonged to a shooting club with a weekly night for training children. It was well attended by parents. As a family, we had no problems with guns. The problem is much greater than access to guns . . .

My wife and I grew up in disciplined families and passed that training to our children. This is not the case today. Family discipline has broken down. Now children grow up feeling entitled to behave as they want. They are exposed to movies and computer games that glorify violent behavior. We need to reverse this trend and bring discipline back into our families.

Allan M. Schneider, Bellevue

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  1. Amen! As a side note: my two year old son got a small nerf gun from the Easter bunny. He already has learned muzzle discipline! Now working on the other rules!

  2. This whole “dont blame guns, blame games and movies and the hip-hop” Lapierrian shtick is getting old, and it make you sound like the anti’s.

    • No desensitization techniques are real, our military uses it, and if someone watches a million fake people die, it can make the real person fake as well

      • Me. I only have one rifle. And after I build a new hunting upper for it, I’ll still only have one trigger group.

        Lot’s of hunters are only casually “into” guns. and may only have one hunting rifle (my father and brother included). I think the viewership of this website often forgets that not everyone is as “gun-geeky” as we are!

      • I’m with you. I won’t say there isn’t some desensitization, but the real issue is lack of discipline and lack of education. Growing up if I acted out I got a whooping and I was raised from a young age to understand and respect guns. As liberals have fought against the idea of holding people accountable for actions and learning to respect guns because they’ve decided punishment and guns are evil, they have inherently created evil.

    • Agreed. Hours and hours (and several more hours) of Doom, Wolfenstein, and other shoot-em-up video games as a kid never once made me forget how to discern between the real world and fantasy. Likewise for music and songs with their fair share of obscene content. Don’t want folks to blame guns? Then stop blaming other inanimate objects, and start pointing the finger at tangible, living objects, such as careless parents and morally feral children.

      • Being poor didn’t make me turn to crime, but I would be an idiot to deny a connection between poverty and crime.

        • I believe poverty, for right or wrong, in our (and other) consumer society, often fosters feeling of envy of what others have, and less and less often turn to crime out of desperation (“I was desperate to get food money and rent for the kids”). This is greatly compounded by our long term entitlement programs, which seem to bring forth the term “they”, as in they owe me, they were late with my check, they can afford this, etc. now, back to the program…

        • look for a connection between attitudes which cause crime, and poverty
          look for people who feel no shame for doing jail time, because they are far from the first to besmirch the family name.

          you can grow up in a sewer of a neighborhood and not be a POS. it requires strength of will and a clear mind.

      • We didn’t have violent video games when I was a kid, we didn’t have video games period. But we still had role playing war games with our toy rifles and pistols and basebat bazookas. We didn’t practice muzzle discipline while playing those games. At the same time, my Dad got me started with a Daisy air rifle and I did learn and practice muzzle discipline when shooting that. I think kids are better able to distinquish play from reality than we give them credit. When I was younger than ten, I only got to shoot that BB gun if my Dad was with me. I knew that if I ever wanted to shoot that BB gun on my own, I had to show that I could be trusted with it. It’s up to us as parents to make sure they understand this.

  3. Not in my family. I taught all my son’s to shoot, starting at age four. They saw what bullets do to reactive targets right away, and a couple years later, after learning the four rules by heart, backward and forewarned, they were ready to kill their first gopher. After seeing that 22 HP turn a living thing inside out, they became well aware of the rather sudden and violent nature of firearms. Never had a problem with them playing with guns, pointing them improperly, etc. Ever. Guns and children definitely mix, and the fact that the media CLAIM that they don’t is one of the roots of this country’s problems.

    • Awesome! I think you hit on some things here that are very relevant…respect, discipline, and parental supervision… A lot of which are missing in families nowadays. I Started both of my daughters shooting when they turned 10. And it has been a great way to spend good quality time with them ever since. I enjoy watching them shoot more than I enjoy doing the shooting. And they’ve never caused any safety incidents not was I ever worried over their weapon handling skills. But it’s because I invested the time in them teaching them respect for the firearm and what it can do, discipline in correct handling techniques, all done through good supervision and coaching.

    • Yep. Had BB guns at 5 or 6, pellet guns 8 or 9, was shooting with my father about the same time with his rifle, and got my first .22lr winchester pump at 11. I kept it in my room and I could take it out and shoot it any time I wanted without asking permission from my parents.
      I was also driving tractors 5 miles down the road with bins of apples to the cider factory at the same age.

      I was given adult responsibilities at 11 because I was trained and I was expected to act with that level of responsibility by that age.

      Now adays, kids generally aren’t trained that way.

  4. I agree with most of the letter, but this:

    They are exposed to movies and computer games that glorify violent behavior.

    This is such a short-sighted statement. How is playing, say, Call of Duty any more “glorifying violence” than playing Cops and Robbers/Cowboys and Indians/Army/pointing a finger and saying “bang”? Violence in art and entertainment is by far nothing new.The oldest stories known to man involve tales of slaughter and war.
    Finally, there has never been a proven link between violent media and violent behavior. As stated, discipline starts at home.

    • I played a lot of Mario bros. as a kid, I just can’t help but stomp on turtles now even 25 years later. Oh well, fortunately kids want to listen to and please their parents. It is when kids become older aware individuals and observe the utter hypocrisy of their parents. Then they loose respect, once that is gone, most else follows. Parents need to behave at the standard they hold their children. This whole, “society” “media” did it is BS. Children are a reflection of those who raise them, parents who wonder why their kids are deviants need only look in the mirror. (Mental illness excluded of course), that’s a whole other conversation.

    • For those willing to look into the idea of family, video games and firearms, West Point professor LTC Dave Grossman’s two books “On Killing” and “On Combat” are excellent resources on how the mind reacts to combat stress, killing, and how even video games plays a part in desensitizing us. Its a good read, and regardless of which side of the video game fence you sit on, its worth hearing out. Jeff Cooper also had some good comments on the importance of a solid family in raising responsible, productive adults. When personal values, morality and responsibility and discipline are no longer taught by the family, then society and the government steps in to replace morality with legality and selfishness. Now off my soap box… I was trained very young in firearms, from a solid family that taught discipline and personal responsibility, and i now have that privilege to teach my children in the same manner. It was an honor and right of passage in my family to be trusted with a firearm, and something i took very seriously. with that said, good parents spend quantity time to know their children and have ghe right to decide how early, or late to train their kids in firearms. Safety though starts very very young. My daughter had the ‘don’t touch tell mommy or daddy’ part down pat at less than three years old.

      • Of all the studies conducted on the link between violence and video games, none was every conclusively found.

        I did not grow up around guns. I shot a single-shot 20ga shooting skeet once when I was 15 at my uncles house. I didn’t grow up in an anti-gun house, we just never owned any. I played a LOT of violent video games. From Doom, to Mortal Kombat, or Quake, pretty much if a school shooting was blamed on it, I probably played it. I was also bullied in school, nerdy chubby kid with lackluster social skills. Easy pickin’s. But I was never violent. I defended myself when attacked, which in all cases subsequently ended said bullying. I was always called the “good kid” or “responsible one” when my friends’ parents talked to one another. Never once had the desire to enact mass violence. Still don’t. And I’m a godless heathen, too.

      • “West Point professor LTC Dave Grossman’s two books “On Killing” and “On Combat” are excellent resources on how the mind reacts to combat stress, killing, and how even video games plays a part in desensitizing us.”

        The idea of “desensitizing someone” is psycho-twaddle, the kind of magical thinking that people without answers to complex problems find especially attractive. The idea that people can be desensitized” like the similar idea of “triggering” so popular on elite college campuses is predicated on the notion that a single source of information like a video game or someone saying something upsetting can be so powerful an inducement that it can overcome a lifetime of learning and cause people do things they wouldn’t normally do.

        Sorry but the socialization process doesn’t work this way: people do bad things (or good things) because THEY WANT TO and not because they played Grand Theft Auto too many times. There is no empirical evidence that a single source of information (i.e., a video, a song, movie, or game) can cause people to do things they wouldn’t normally do. Learning and socialization are complex processes. You don’t create heroes or killers by showing them movies.

        • That’s a straw man argument. Let me put it this way, when you train for defensive (or offensive) situations you sometimes play out situations in your mind? If someone breaks down my door at night, I am going to do this, if he is armed, I am going to do that… Etc? The idea is, if you constantly train for your reaction in a situation you decrease response time to that first “oh #^}%#^!” moment. You are desensitizing yourself to the shock moment so you can respond. Now, to transfer that to video games, violence is shocking, whether you do it, or are the victim if it, but repeatedly train through virtual experiences and you will decrease your emotional response to that shock. You are able to deaden that reality a bit by having your brain go through multiple non-real situations that seem more and more real, or as some call it, training. So will COD make a serial killer? Not by itself, but it can probably help someone stay dissociated when they do snap and go down that road.since they have been killing masses virtually for years. Driving simulators make better drivers, flight simulators make better pilots, why do you think killing simulators are absolved of that end point?

        • I think the issue is the moral training of the youth that underlies exposure to violent video games. We look inward, inside ourselves, and conclude that violent video games had no impact. We look at our childhood friends; our children, and our conclusion is confirmed. But remember, we are all members of the choir.
          Now, consider the youth raised by a single parent in the inner city with little-to-no example or training in morality. His mother does whatever suits her. Her train of “gentlemen callers” do whatever suits them to his mother. There is a void of any moral compass whatsoever. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and only the most vicious dogs survive. On that foundation, add reinforcement from rap lyrics and violent video games.
          Why do you expect the same outcome as in your own case or that of your childhood friends or own children?

        • ‘lilJoe, You’re drawing a highly inaccurate false equivalency between driving, flying, and killing. You’re also making the suggestion that video games are accurate simulations of killing. That’s completely ludicrous.

          A “killing simulator” would be just that – up close and person simulation of actual killing. Even the goriest of video games are not “simulators”. The other part of your analogy is also irrelevant. Granting that flying and driving simulators improve performance in the real world, they don’t force you to actually drive nor fly. They do not increase your desire to drive nor fly. Most importantly raising one’s skill level has nothing to do with desensitization to an act or one’s inclination t perform it. I certainly hope you have a different emotional reaction (and thought process) to driving over 150MPH, or doing a barrel-roll in a Cessna, than you do to beating someone to death with a hammer.

          As has been noted, there are no decent peer-reviewed studies out there that show that causal link. None. And many have gone looking for it.

          The real ‘desensitization’ is the same human nature that has been around since the dawn of man. Believe the ‘other guy’ to be “other”, or against you, in reality or imagination. Makes it easy to stone people to death, burn people as witches, kill scientists, or chop up a million or so people with machetes. Video games? What kills people is governments, tribalism, and religion. Everything else is just statistical noise around the edges.

      • Grossman has absolutely been debunked. See:

        See also Stanley Milgram’s famous experiments(referenced in the article) involving what the test subjects gave what they thought were lethal amounts of electricity to the people dubbed “learners”. The “learners” had done nothing to the test subjects, in fact they were strangers. That did not stop 65% of the test subjects, under prodding, to administer what they thought were 450 volt shocks to the “learners”.

    • I’ve played Contract Wars, Rush Team, Red Crucible 2, the call of duty series, but I don’t feel desensitized. I was trained in proper firearms use from a young age and I agree that if someone attacks me or my family I will do whatever it takes to stop them, but I will not enjoy or relish the act. I don’t believe what is said about video games desensitizing people to violence, I know some erratic people who I could definitely picture taking a life that don’t play video games.

  5. I grew up in a home with unsecured guns, I never once thought about even touching them. My dad took us out whenever we wanted. I have also played and still play plenty of violent video games, watch violent movies. Never once have I had the impulse to do something irresponsible with firearms. What’s missing in kids lives today is an understanding of personal responsibility and consequences. I’m 32 btw.

    • I am 66 now and played World of Warcraft every evening for several hours and for several years. Killed other players, monsters, etc. with everything from daggers, swords, magic, guns and more. Even had some minions that went along with me, like pets, and helped me do all of that. Yet, I have never had the urge to attack or harm real people. Why is that ?

  6. Parental discipline hasn’t merely “broken down.” Parental prerogatives have been taken over by the almighty state, which considers itself a better parent than you. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but the same kind of people who run the Veterans Administration, your local drivers license bureau and the state indoctrination system are now in control of your children.

    See how well it’s working? Those petty bureaucrats, who can’t piss straight, are bringing up your children.

    • Can you blame the state when parents gladly relinquish their roles? The state couldn’t possibly step in if parents did not allow it. If you don’t believe that, you are not a parent. Discipline is necessary more for parents than children.

      • ” The state couldn’t possibly step in if parents did not allow it.”

        I might be missing your point here, but as I’m reading this, this is patently incorrect. The State steps in regarding family matters ALL THE TIME and sometimes parents LOOSE their children through NOTHING illegal or harmful to the child.

        If you doubt that, you are NOT paying attention.

        In fact, I know of one case where a third party did not agree with a trip a father planned to take with his daughter…whom he had raised as sole parent for 7 or so years (she was SIXTEEN at the time) … to recap…a third party (neighbor or some such) did not agree with a trip both Father AND Daughter wanted to take together … and petitioned the court to have the ‘child’ removed from his custody.

        AND WON.

        When I learned of this, I checked and found that it is true that a disinterested third party can initiate proceedings against a parent and it’s a CRAP SHOOT how it will be resolved in family court.

        Take a look at some history:

        Also, has some good info.

        Just a few moments ago, I discussed the role of Home School Legal Defense Association. This organization stays very, very busy fighting parent’s rights cases ONLY in the home school realm.

        • I hear what you are saying. There are tragic and wrong actions taken against families by the state every day. I am speaking in generalities. How much does a parent want to sacrifice, how much discipline does a parent have, in order to raise their child in the way they deem fit? Being a child has not gotten any harder, being a parent has. My point is not that there are not grievances, my point is that if sacrifices are made you can raise your child any way you see fit.

        • Sign in front of Rolling Hills Middle School, Campbell Kommieforniastan. “All Kids Are Our Kids”.

        • ” my point is that if sacrifices are made you can raise your child any way you see fit.”

          Many homeschooling parents would find this statement laughable. We don’t pay for legal representation on retainer for no reason.

          As SOON as you step outside the conformist box, the statists take notice and assume there’s something wrong that needs correcting. Oh, and they (think they) are the ones that get to define what is appropriate conformity.

          I will concede in the area of homeschooling, the situation is FAR better than it used to be. I know a lady that began homeschooling in the 1980’s, and her stories are well worth listening to. A large part of the parental rights we DO enjoy today are due to the efforts (and sacrifices, as you put it) by her and those of her time. In the 1980’s it was quite dangerous to even attempt homeschooling and it took great courage to assert that right.

          But, sadly, the abuses are also commonplace even in this day-and-age. As I said…HSLDA stays very busy fighting parental rights issues that should never come up in the first place in a rational nation.

          Statists are going to try to control…and it NEVER stops. This overlaps with what we know / regarding 2A. The same groups oppose ‘parent rights’ that oppose ‘gun rights.’ On the whole, at least.

    • Only if you let them. Traditionalists and conservatives fuss so much about decay in the “state indoctrination system.” How about sitting on school boards and PTAs instead? You’d be surprised how many Democrat voters are suddenly libertarians when Common Core means their precious children can’t multiply two numbers. The government is only a hopeless, statist nightmare if you give up on it.

  7. You lost me at “They are exposed to movies and computer games that glorify violent behavior.” Mhhhhhmmm and there were not violent movies 20, 30, 40+ years ago. Blaming violent video games and movies is the feel good answer that doesn’t blame real issues.

    • for my 9th birthday i got a vhs copy of predator 2

      and i managed to make it to 33 (so far) without removing a single person’s spine!

  8. I’m hearing two things here:

    1. Discipline in the home.
    2. Glorification of violence in the media and video games.

    I believe that if you have discipline in the family then media/game violence is viewed as entertainment, not a career. Contra-wise, without discipline the child will have no idea what they want to do, or how to achieve it. A strong lead and a good example is required to maintain discipline, and the laissez faire approach to child rearing in our classless culture is taking its toll.

    Discipline is the key to controlling impulsive behavior. Undisciplined children are a pain in the ass for everyone.

  9. I work for a large retailer, and the sheer number of people I see on a daily basis who have absolutely no control over their children (aged 5-13) is staggering. The lack of respect that these kids show for their own parents and strangers is disgusting. Most of these parents simply ignore their screaming spawn & allow them to wreak havoc on store merchandise displays, while their own noses are buried in their smartphones. Other parents simply resort to screaming at their misbehaving progeny.
    That kind of behavior was rare when I was that age some 30 years ago.

    • That is the problem with weak parents. My son knows that real guns are tools for cops and the military, not something to play with unless he joins the military.

  10. The letter was great until that last line about movies and video games… being a parent means taking responsibility for your child’s behavior. Don’t blame what they watch or play, especially if you’re the one who’s too lazy to check the content before you open up your wallet and you buy them a brand new $60 video game.

    As a teacher, it’s been disappointing to find that many parents would rather spend $$$ on video games and junk food than buy a book for their kid.

  11. There have been over 3,500+ studies investigating any alleged “connection” between violence in the media and violence in real life.

    Guess what? There is NONE.

    Other than that, Mr. Schneider, your post was spot-on.

    • I love BS quotes like this, antis use it all the tim when making up stats, 3,500 studies? Wow… You think they would have given up after study #250?

      • I don’t know where Exedrine got that number and it may or may not be accurate, but if you actually read a decent science aggregator, you wouldn’t be surprised by that number at all. 3500? Easy pickins to get funding because there are those who want desperately to find a link, regardless of the last 1000 failures to do so. Do the math, that’s only 150ish per year since they started.

        There have been studies on this topic for the last 2+ decades. There are hundreds of ‘researchers’ who have delved into this, from academia to the whole alphabet soup of government agencies, here and abroad. The studies vary widely in breadth and depth. I know that I’ve seen more than 300. Haven’t read them all, but I know I’ve seen more than that over the decades. They are a dime a dozen.

  12. I agree 100%, except when he said the movies and video games part. Being 25, I was raised in the video game/television brainwashed generation. My first “firearm” was given to me at 3 years old it was a SxS shotgun, but had nice orange plugs in the end of the barrel and the shells that you put caps in(a glorified pop gun). My father made me learn all my gun safety with it, when we went hunting I carried it in a safe manner(breech open, muzzle towards the ground), when I fired it I could only point it in a safe direction, etc. Till I got upgraded to a pellet rifle and then to a single shot 410 when I was 5 or so. Teach them well and teach them young, when they become old enough to go hunting/shooting on thier own it will be engraved in thier brains.

  13. Everyone please note that the editorial at the Seattletimes this man was responding to was written by one Heidi Yewman, the same woman who wrote a series for Ms. Magazine called “My Month With A Gun,” in which she describes how she purchased a gun and avoided every opportunity for training about gun safety, marksmanship, or safe storage… she didn’t even know how to load it… in order to keep herself “at the legal minimum” and thus maximally ignorant. I suppose the point was to create a harrowing tale that would demonstrate what a spectacularly stupid idea that is.
    Seriously. She had never heard of Cooper’s four rules. Off-body carry of a Glock, unsecured, in an unattended purse, within reach of her kids.
    The moral of the story, of course, was supposed to be that “guns are bad!” rather than “I’m an idiot!” but not even that magazine’s readership bought her line. The four-part series was cancelled after a firestorm of negative comments following the first installment. But the internet never forgets, does it?

  14. Video games don’t influence people. If I was influenced by Pacman, I would be sitting in the dark, popping pills, seeing ghosts, and listening to awful techno music.

    I have played just about every major first-person-shooter on the PC since the early 1990s. I’ve been in competition target shooting another 5 years on top of that.

    My son who is now nearly 7 has been going to the range with me since he was 3 and has known about my guns since the age of 2. He is probably more aware of firearms safety than most adults, but that isn’t difficult in Australia.

    I have never forbidden my son from handling the rifles. He has always been allowed to touch them under supervision. This eliminated the “forbidden fruit” appeal. He even likes to help me clean the rifle after the competition. You can’t get a better son than that. He often asks questions and I always give him honest answers.

    He also plays Call Of Duty on PC against the bots. He knows it is just a game, but I think it has helped his hand-to-eye coordination, spacial awareness, tactical planning, and enough basic PC skills to help his teacher at school. He tells me the game has nothing to do with what happens at the range (I shoot in service rifle and we use military figure targets including 11, 12, 13, and 14). He knows they are separate activities. But he is looking forward to being old enough to get his juniors permit to join in with dad.

  15. Mr. Fargo,

    Video game violence is unlikely to cause real world violence in much the same way reading a sad book is unlikely to cause suicide. Violence is very child abuse oriented (especially violence against women). Usually this involves traumatic experiences in childhood such as being mercilessly beaten every time they put so much as a toe out of line and sexual abuse is extremely likely to increase criminal behavior. Boys being victims at a very young age (plus some genetic factors) produce violence. If the victimization occurs at an older age, they are not likely to become violent.

  16. Everybody has their scapegoat and solution don’t they?
    All the discipline, instruction, sheltering from media/violence in the world is no guarantee your kid won’t do something stupid.
    Just as all the half-assed non-parenting, glue sniffing and Terminator marathons are no guarantee your kid will do something stupid.

    Roughly 5% of the population is made of these lunatics who steal, assault and murder for whatever reason. They come from every background imaginable without rhyme or reason.
    Volumes of academic and scientific research spanning centuries and nobody is any closer to figuring out why than that awesomely retarded phrenology guy was.

    Most everyone is perfectly happy to live and let live without stepping on anyone elses toes. A few are not. There will never be complete understanding as to why. There will never be a solution. Just know that this is reality and live your life accordingly.

    I suppose one could argue it is not worth giving up the search just in the off chance a solution may be found but looking at all the same arguments being spun in circles for the last 50 or so years should serve as an indication that the research is exhausted and barring any great neurological discoveries we’re done here. Dead horse has been beaten to a mushy pulp.

  17. Video games cause violence.

    Music causes violence.

    Guns cause violence.

    See what I did there?

  18. I grew up in Upstate New York in the 1980s (thankfully am in Florida now). Even in the gun control utopia, we had guns, not by design, but by circumstance. My uncle, an avid hunter, enlisted in the Navy at 18. He didn’t trust his mother to oversee his rifles and ammunition (not by distrust, my grandmother had the signs of dementia) so said items were turned over to his sister (my mother) to store at our house. I don’t know if at the time such a transfer was legal or not, but no one gave it a second thought. “Here’s my guns, sis, take care of them…” “OK”.

    The guns were stored, unloaded, in my parents’ closet on a high shelf. I knew they were there, and was told not to touch them, not with a threat, but a simple explanation of what the guns were capable of in untrained hands. If I ever wanted to see or handle them, all I had to do was ask a parent. I maybe asked to see them once. The old Mossberg shotgun, the no-name .22 LR, and the Remington something-or-other 30-06 rifle held little interest to me. I cared more about 8-bit Nintendo, going outside to explore, and riding my bike.

    That’s the kicker there. I had stuff to keep me occupied, along with the fact that the guns weren’t demonized. They were inert objects that could be dangerous if used incorrectly.

    When my uncle got off of his first tour and was on leave, we did go hunting. Now, that was the fun part. But even then, it was explained to me the ins and outs of gun safety and the basics on where and when they could be used. Just because I knew how to handle the .22 didn’t mean I could just start plinking in the backyard. There was a trust there and I didn’t want to break it.

    It’s a simple matter of being involved and explaining things to the kids, and not layering it down with fire and brimstone.

  19. Discipline matters because a lot of modern technology shields us from or delays the consequences of our actions. We’re being raised on “easy mode” and firearms don’t have one. Which I really like, by the way.

  20. “Discipline is key for guns in the home.”

    Discipline is key for – er anything dangerous – in – er anywhere. There. Fixed it.

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